Tag: phoenix small business

SCORE Success Story: Heartsweet Cakes

Heartsweet Cakes, a SCORE Success Story“When starting your business, you are going to need a plan A, B, C, and D,” said my SCORE mentor Roger Robinson, at one of our first meetings together. I left this meeting frustrated and discouraged because I only had a plan A.

Upon graduating college with a degree in business, I moved to Chicago and began working downtown at a marketing research firm, working only the left side of my brain in a cubicle for three years. From day one, I yearned for something more. I knew I wanted a career that I was passionate about and fulfilling. I went back to my love of art and design and began searching for cake decorating programs at culinary schools. I enrolled at the prestigious French Pastry School and I never looked back.

A couple of internships later, I worked my way up and managed the top cake shop in the city. I honed my skills and learned as much as I could about the industry and cake design. It was at this shop where my vision and dream for Heartsweet Cakes began to take shape. I drafted a 40-page business plan, complete with a 600+ item inventory list with prices and suppliers, and I estimated all of my start-up costs.

I moved to Arizona with a plan, a single plan, a plan A. I knew what I wanted my business to become and I was confident that I had the skills and talent to achieve it, but I reached a point in the process where I needed some help. Specifically, I was looking for advice in finding a commercial property and financing support/advice. I reached out to the local SCORE office in Phoenix and both Roger Robinson and Bill Robinson were assigned as my mentors.

Haley Cairns of HeartSweet Cakes - a SCORE Success StoryOnce Roger and Bill had a chance to review my business plan, we dove into some in-depth discussions and analysis of my financials. This was when my plan A started to seem like something that may be too risky financially. They asked me, “Is there a less risky way to start your business but still produce the same product to the same client market?” The answer was “yes”, and I truly feel like they both guided me into a less risky start of my company.  I decided to begin my business out of my home and I installed all of my commercial equipment into a spare room with a separate entrance. I am able to produce the same quality product that my clientele expects from me with less overhead and minimal construction costs. I was able to invest my startup capital into my branding, website, high-quality equipment and materials. I now have room to steadily grow my business with less pressure and financial risk and I will have a lot more control over my work-life balance.

I owe a big thank you to SCORE and the mentors that devoted their time, knowledge, advice, and support to me with my journey of making Heartsweet Cakes a reality. I believed that I could start my business with my plan A but, along the way, I was guided into a plan B, which was the smarter way to achieve my dream and I can attribute this to my experience with SCORE. Thank you to my mentors, Roger and Bill, and all of the other SCORE mentors who support entrepreneurs like me, who are willing to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality.

Haley Cairns
Owner of Heartsweet Cakes – Phoenix, AZ

You can be a SCORE success story! Get free business mentoring no matter where you are in your business: thinking of starting, start-up, growing or established. Click here to schedule a mentoring session with a mentor in one of our many Phoenix Valley locations.

Are you a SCORE Success? We’d love to feature you here in our blog and in our newsletter! Contact your SCORE mentor or the SCORE office with your story.

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Is it the Right Time to Expand Your Business?

Is it the right time to expand your business?Have you begun to wonder if your business is ready to expand? It’s a tough question to answer. Even if all indicators point toward making this move, you don’t want to jump the gun. This is a big decision that will impact you and your company in a number of ways.

Here are some of the questions that will continually run through your head:

  • What are the financial benefits of expanding?
  • What are the potential risks?
  • Do I have the time to take on the added responsibility?
  • Will I need to hire additional staff?
  • Will it require a large outlay of cash?

At some point, you need to make a final decision: Are you going to expand, or will you wait?

Expand now or later?

You may have come to the conclusion that your business will expand at some point. But that doesn’t mean you have pinpointed when this will happen.

There is a big difference between expanding just to expand and expanding at the best time.

Here are five points that will help you identify the best time for expansion:

  1. You have reached your original goals

Take a look back at your business plan. What do you see? If all your original goals have been met, it may be time to set new goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to expand, but you are in position to take on the challenge.

Furthermore, and most importantly, if you have reached your original goals, you now have the experience and confidence necessary to take on this process.

  1. You recognize the demand

As an example, let’s assume you are in the restaurant business. You have a single location that continues to perform well. Customers always provide positive feedback, with many noting they would love to see another location in the area.

Sometimes, the best way to determine when to expand is to ask your customers or clients for feedback. If they think it is a good idea — and if they can back up this sentiment with solid reasons — you may be onto something.

Pro tip: You can also enlist the help of these same customers during the expansion process. Sticking with the restaurant example, ask for feedback related to location, menu, hours and similar details.

  1. You have researched the opportunity

It is easy to believe that you can expand your business and continue to achieve the same level of success. But is this guaranteed? Definitely not.

You have to research every angle of the expansion, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. Some areas of interest should include:

  • Personnel
  • Capital
  • Time requirement
  • Location

For some companies, expansion means nothing more than adding employees. For others, this means renting additional office space, sometimes in a different part of the country.

Regardless of your expansion plan and goals, there are details that deserve your attention. Have you researched the opportunity, inside and out?

  1. You know the capital requirements

Biting off more than you can chew, from a financial perspective, can kill your expansion plans before they ever get up and running. Worse yet, the wrong approach could put your company at risk for real financial trouble.

You need to know, down to every last dollar, how much you will spend to expand your business. This includes everything from the cost of hiring new employees to rent and everything in between.

Additionally, make note of how you plan on paying for the expansion. Do you have cash in the bank? Do you need to raise money from investors? Do you require a small business loan?

  1. You have a sound business plan

When you started your company, you created a business plan that touched on a variety of topics, such as your mission, marketing analysis and financial details.

You should do the same before expanding. As you work through the plan, you will get a better idea of whether now is the time to expand. The questions you answer will give you a clear idea of where you stand.

Pro tip: Copy your original business plan (to a certain degree). This served you well once, so it may be able to do so again. Focus on the same core areas, with the idea that you are not starting fresh but instead expanding on your current operation.

Pros and cons of expanding

Just because you feel good about expanding doesn’t mean you have to take the leap. Now may seem like a good time, but you should still understand the pros and cons associated with such a big decision.

The pros:

  1. Ability to reach new customers
  2. Ability to generate more revenue and profit
  3. Opportunity to hire more employees, thus helping the economy

The cons:

  1. Capital requirements
  2. Potential to spread your company, as well as yourself, too thin
  3. More money, more problems (Yes, this can be true.)

Final thoughts

It’s not always easy to identify the best time to expand your business. Let the five points above guide you on your journey. When you rely on these tips, and compare the pros and cons, you will find yourself in position to make an informed and confident decision.

Do you have any additional business expansion advice to share?

About the Author:

Meredith WoodA regular contributor to the GoDaddy Garage, Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Fundera is an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.

A Greater Phoenix SCORE mentor can help guide you through the business expansion or “growing pains” with everything from business plans, budgets, feasibility, and just a good, honest objective opinion. Click here to schedule a free meeting with a mentor near you!


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Videos with Advice for Entrepreneurs from the Sharks

Videos with tips for Enterpreneurial SuccessEntrepreneurs – you are a rare breed.

It takes courage to start a business and it’s definitely not easy. There are hurdles, pitfalls, brick walls, growing pains, disappointments, rejections, you name it! Here are some short videos and additional articles to help you get through the everyday business challenges. And remember, a SCORE mentor can help guide you through them! Click here to meet with a Phoenix SCORE mentor for free!

Barbara Corcoran: The Biggest Business Challenge: Your Insecurity?

“The biggest challenge in business is not the competition, it’s what goes on inside your own head…” Barbara Corcoran

Robert Herjavec: Success Isn’t Measured on Days When the Sun Shines

Daymond John’s Rules to Turn Your Idea Into Millions

Related articles from Entrepreneur Magazine

15 Habits of Mentally Tough People

Barbara Corcoran on the Secret to Handling Rejection

“Show me an entrepreneur who can take a hit, and I’ll show you a good entrepreneur…” Barbara Corcoran

“I fail well.” Barbara Corcoran

Don’t forget to Click here to meet with a Phoenix SCORE mentor for free!

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Video: Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for Startups

Mark Cuban 12 Tips for StartupsIf you’re in business and you don’t watch Shark Tank, you’re missing out on the best business advice you can ever get. You can catch reruns on ABC on Friday nights and weeknights on CNBC Primetime. Even when watching shows you’ve watched before helps you grab tips that you may not have caught before.

It comes down to finding something your love to do and then just trying to be great at it.”
Mark Cuban

In this video, Mark Cuban, notorious serial entrepreneur, shares his top 12 Rules for Startups:

  • Is it an obsession?
  • Know your core competencies
  • Not just for company founders, but for those thinking of working for a start-up
  • How are you going to monetize it?
  • Go with what you know
  • Flat and open
  • Have fun!

Thinking of starting something up? Meet with a SCORE Mentor for FREE! Or attended one of our seminars – check out the list on the left side of this blog for the next classes or visit our website.

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Video: Think Like a CEO with Vanessa Shaw

Vanessa Shaw, Business Growth Coach
Vanessa Shaw, Business Growth Coach

Business growth coach, Vanessa Shaw, presented at the Greater Phoenix SCORE 2015 Small Business Symposium on March 31, 2015. Her presentation, “Think Like a CEO”, was the last one of the day, but it was one of the most motivational speeches as she told her story of moving to Scottsdale from Switzerland with her family so that she could start her own business.

Think like a CEO: Avoiding the top 5 Business Dysfunctions

“True leaders create a future that is distinctly different from their past.”

Watch the full presentation here:

“The same thinking that got you here to day will not get you to where you want to be.”

Dysfunction #1: Quest for a Magic Potion – We’re hard-wired for growth, but we want it to be easy. “If I just put it out there, it’ll work.” There is no magic pill.

Dysfunction #2: Addicted to Busyness – “I’ve been busy!” “There’s not enough time in the day!” You feel if you’re busy, you’re being productive, but are you? Focus on income-generating activities.

Dysfunction #3: Fear of Sabre-tooth Tigers – We’re hard-wired to play it safe. Take risks. Do not fear change. As a business owner you have to change and evolve and step out of your comfort zone.

Dysfunction #4: Wallowing in the Weeds – Take time to come up and be more visible. Go network. Don’t be the biggest kept secret. Work from the Vision

Dysfunction #5: You’re the Lone Ranger – Reach out for help. You have to be willing to say that you don’t have all the answers.

A SCORE mentor can help you get those answers! Click here to schedule a free mentoring session. We’ve got mentors all over the Phoenix Valley!


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Arizona Corporation Commission Launches new eCorp Website for Businesses

The Arizona Corporation Commission Launches eCorp – A Site Providing Enhanced Services for Businesses: http://eCorp.azcc.gov

Arizona Corporation CommissionIf you’re starting a business in Arizona, you need to file the appropriate forms with the Corporation Commission. This new site makes it easy to:

  • Search to see if your business name is available
  • Learn where to start
  • Get statistical data about Arizona businesses
  • Get copies of your company’s filing and status
  • Get their current processing times
  • A Services page for quick access to available services such as online Certificates of Good Standing, annual report email reminders, and records requests
  • Ten Steps to Starting a Business in Arizona.
  • It’s compatible with the major web browsers and mobile devices.

Here’s a video tour and tutorial of the site:

All corporations and LLCs doing business in Arizona must file their business entity documents with the Corporation Commission. There are approximately 198,145 corporations and 643,498 LLCs registered to do business in our state. Last year, the Commission received 373,067 business filings.

If you need help deciding which type of entity you should be, a SCORE mentor can help you with that for free!!! Click here to schedule a meeting. We have several locations in the Phoenix Valley.

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